The first AACTA Award winners for 2019 have been announced! Emerging actors Asha Boswarva and Chris Alosio are the recipients of the 2019 AACTA Subscription Television Award for Best Female and Male New Talent for their outstanding performances in LAMBS OF GOD and FIGHTING SEASON, respectively.
Their performances mark both of their major television debuts, proving that there is no shortage of strong, substantive roles for young performers in Australian drama. AACTA Connect spoke to Chris about his role as Izzy, a young soldier in FIGHTING SEASON, and Asha about her performance as Young Margarita, a depiction of Golden Globe Award winner Ann Dowd’s character in LAMBS OF GOD in reflections on her life at fifteen-years-old, and asked for their perspective on the Australian screen industry and their approach to their craft.
FIGHTING SEASON, led by Jay Ryan and Ewen Leslie, has earned an additional three nominations ahead of the 2019 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel, while LAMBS OF GOD has amassed a record-breaking fourteen nominations across the television categories. While these shows are some of the biggest on Australian Television at the moment, finding a personal connection to a character is essential for any performer. “There's a moment in the script where Izzy's memory is triggered and he remembers something he forced himself to forget. Instead of speaking to someone about it, he chooses to unload this stress by going to a bar and gambling all of his savings away,” said Chris of his character Izzy, who describes drawing on his personal experience to deeply understand and relate to his character’s circumstance.
“There's a moment in the script where Izzy's memory is triggered and he remembers something he forced himself to forget. Instead of speaking to someone about it, he chooses to unload this stress by going to a bar and gambling all of his savings away,” said Chris of his character Izzy, who describes drawing on his personal experience to deeply understand and relate to his character’s circumstance. “I grew up around this sort of culture, not so much army culture but a poor take on masculinity in general where we just don’t talk enough and use alcohol, drugs, and gambling as a vice to deal with our problems. To be a part of something which starts that conversation, in terms of what is at the forefront of major setbacks of our youth today in Australia and NZ, is a gem.” - Chris Alosio
Conversely, Asha found her character of Young Margarita to be vastly different to her. “She’s been betrayed by her father and exposed to a sinister side of life. I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family and haven’t had to endure the hardships that Young Margarita experienced.” Despite their differences, there was a resilience in the character that she was able to connect to. “To tap into the deep emotions of Young Margarita, I called on my experiences where I have felt powerless and vulnerable and I tried to use that to understand the struggle Young Margarita was going through.”
Across the productions, both Asha and Chris’ characters experience and handle trauma in different ways and similarly, both actors employed varying techniques to access the depths required for emotionally challenging scenes. Asha used her costume as a physical cue for her to tap into her character for the duration of emotionally demanding scenes while also ensuring she was able to reset at the end of each day. “I wanted to make sure I was fully committed to the character when I was on set in costume. When I took off the costume, it was a trigger to leave the character and the emotional experience on set.“ For Chris, it was the training in the lead up to the shoot that offered valuable insight into his character’s mind set. “We went through a boot camp prior to shoot where we learnt about the ins and outs of being an Australian Soldier and trained like them too. It was tough and a massive eye-opener as to just how skilled and highly trained our officers are. Massive respect.”
As an athlete himself – Chris is a keen rugby player – his physical and mental preparation for the role went hand in hand. “I break down my scripts and character briefs the same way I would prepare for game day. You make all your plays and set up all the flash moves in prep then when it comes to game day - I must lead with my heart, but also go in cool-headed and like an old coach used to say: "Play what's in front of you and adapt.’” Similarly, though less overtly physical, Asha chose to master an essential skill to add depth and authenticity to her character.
“There’s a pivotal scene for Young Margarita where she’s required to use an old fashioned zippo cigarette lighter. I wanted to master the one handed flip and light before I got on set!” - Asha Boswarva
While Asha and Chris’ techniques and approaches to their craft and characterisation differ, both have experienced a masterclass in craft working alongside some of the best performers and filmmakers in the industry. For Asha, this includes Damon Herriman, Essie Davis, Kate Mulvaney and Jessica Barden in LAMBS OF GOD, though she admits that working so closely with Ann Dowd was an “incredible privilege. She was extremely kind and generous with her time. She knew everyone by name and created a sense of collaboration and warmth on set. Between takes, notebook in hand, I tried to soak up every bit of knowledge I could.”
For Chris, the cast and crew of FIGHTING SEASON offered him a “wealth of experience! They all taught me so many lessons from different journeys they had been through. [Director] Kate Woods is a genius, Jay and Ewen were always giving me technique primers, and Julian [Maroun] taught me about the importance of work ethic.”
With breakout performances earning them critical acclaim and industry recognition, we look forward to seeing what’s next from Asha and Chris, whose futures are surely very bright.
Asha Boswarva presenting at the 2019 AACTA Awards Industry Luncheon presented by Foxtel. Limited tickets are still available at aacta.org/whats-on.